Following the announcement at Saltex 2014 that they were to become exclusive UK distributors of Graden products, Charterhouse Turf Machinery recently invited members of the UK trade press to Hankley Common Golf Club. The assembled journalists were shown the rudiments of the complete range of machinery and managed to get some ‘hands-on’ experience as well!

Graden Industries is at the leading edge of quality specialist turf machinery.  The company started out as a family business serving just the Australian Turf Industry, but over the years has branched out throughout the world. Welcoming the press, Charterhouse Sales Manager Nick Darking said “We are delighted to have the Graden range on board, but it is of course tinged with sadness following the passing of Keith Kensett. However, we are very pleased that John Fitzpatrick has joined us from Kensetts to act as our Graden Product Specialist.  I honestly believe the Graden machines are one of maybe four key pieces of groundcare machinery which have had a profound effect on the industry. The phrase ‘to Graden’ has become a generic term, just like ‘to Verti-Drain’ has.  The phone has not stopped ringing since we took on the range last year.”

First up, John Fitzpatrick demonstrated the two tractor mounted models, the Swing Wing and GBS 1200.  “What makes these machines unique”, he began, “is the speed at which they can accurately function.  This means that contractors, groundsmen and greenkeepers can get the job done quickly, before the weather turns bad, offering time savings over other machines.”

The Graden Swing Wing in action

The Graden Swing Wing in action

The Swing Wing is belt driven, available in two working widths – 1.5m and 2.0m, and is fitted with 3 individual floating heads. It is ideal for Greens, Tees and Fairways as well as Cricket Outfields and Squares. The GBS 1200 is a 1.2m straight reeled verticutter ideal for flat areas such as Sports Pitches, Cricket Squares, Tennis Courts, Golf Tees and Approaches etc.  As John explained, “The Swing Wing in the 1.5 metre version might be a simple unit, but boy does it carry some muscle!  At a depth of 8mm a greenkeeper can verticut a whole fairway in just 2 hours.”

The GS04 and the material removed in a single pass

The GS04 and the material removed in a single pass

Next up came the two pedestrian models in the range, the GS04 ‘Original Graden’ and the critically-acclaimed Contour Sand Injection (CSI) unit. The GS04 was originally designed for Cricket Squares but has now found a home on most sports surfaces. Offering a 0.4m cutting width and variable cutting depth from 0 – 45mm, this machine can remove up to 22% of a green in one treatment (depending on blade width and spacing).  The ingenious CSI is a scarifier/aerator with the ability to scarify to any depth from 1mm to 40mm, whilst using a gravity feed system to simultaneously backfill the grooves with either sand or a combination of sand and seed to improve drainage and rooting. Its floating head makes it perfect for undulating areas such as golf greens, tees and approaches.

John Fitzpatrick demonstrating the Graden CSI

John Fitzpatrick demonstrating the Graden CSI

An article written by USGA agronomists identified that, on mature greens, the area impacted/removed per year should be about 15-20% to effectively control organic matter build-up. Each pass with the Graden CSI removes around 7%, therefore 2 treatments per year is enough to assist in the creation of optimum surface conditions. In addition the result is a clean, level playing surface with minimal signs of damage meaning the green is playable virtually immediately after treatment. 18 greens could take as little as 2 days to treat.

Course Manager at Hankley Common Golf Club, Gareth Roberts, took the opportunity to take a look at the proceedings, “On the first pass of the Swing Wing I was amazed at the amount of material being removed.  I also like the fact that the blade depth can be adjusted to suit any need.  I was most impressed by the robust construction and speed of the machines.  The CSI’s role in a fine turf maintenance programme would be invaluable – it goes deeper; rips out organic matter; back fills with sand and all in one pass!”